Between restrictions and the need to produce efficient: Successful ENAJ Low Budget Press Trip to the Netherlands

A group of 21 Agricultural journalists from 13 countries has travelled to the Netherlands to get firsthand insight. The farmers in one of the agricultural superpowers are struggling with mounting societal demands. The political turmoil has caused a deadlock regarding the further development of the farm sector.

The Netherlands have a problem: They are the 2nd biggest exporter of agricultural goods in the world and, at the same time, a very densely populated and relatively small state with a growing urban population.

The very intensive production over the past decades has brought prosperity not only to the farmers and the whole region but also to the nutrition of millions of people worldwide. But at the same time, it has also caused a problem with pollution and a recent political earthquake.

More than enough reasons for a Low Budget Press Trip to the Netherlands and specifically to Friesland, one of the hotspots of dutch dairy production. We met here from March 23 to 26 for a trip named «Dutch Dairy – innovations in emission».

Just a few days before the trip, on March 15th, the provincial elections in the Netherlands ended with quite a surprising result. The Bure Burger Bewegning (BBB) became the strongest party in all 12 dutch provinces.

BBB was founded in 2019 as a consequence of the rough treatment of the farmers in the so-called Nitrogen crisis. The Netherlands are under heavy pressure from the EU to reduce its nitrogen and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The government tries to enforce the aims set to them by the EU with a mixture of carrot and stick.

Due to some very radical plans containing expropriation and recompensation for better handling of GHG emissions, the farmers started heavy protests against those measures because they felt threatened by their existence.

At the moment, the situation can be described as a total deadlock. On the one hand, all further developments of dairy farms are suspended. At the same time, the government is in danger of getting overthrown after the success of the BBB in the elections.

On our trip, we got a broad insight into the complex situation seen by farmers, politicians and researchers. There is no solution in sight yet. But it might probably be less radical than initially planned. But the pressure of the EU and the domestic opponents of intensive animal farming will not disappear like that.

Under this link, you will find additional information about the trip and its programme, including the visited farms. The trip was organized in collaboration with the Dutch Guild of Agricultural Journalists (NVLJ) – Connie and Hans Siemes, Jacqueline Wijbenga, and Sjoerd Hofstee did a tremendous job as organizers. On behalf of the whole ENAJ community, we would like to thank them very much.

The travelling Agjournos on the Sietse and Hendrika de Jong farm in Tijnje. (Christian Mühlhausen)
Herman Miedema is the star of the second morning on the trip. (Adrian Krebs)
Big stable in a small country: A cow on the farm of Jelle Heida and André Kleista in Hoornsterzwaag. (Adrian Krebs)
Farmer Sietse de Jong produces cheese from his cows’ milk in Tijnje.
Hard Work: Trienke Elshof from the national farmers union LTO tries to protect the farmers against government measures.
British journalist Johann Tasker is interviewing politician, activist and farmer Sieta van Keimpema from the Dutch Dairy Board.
Great food, too: The group ate in the restaurant of the hotel school NHL Stenden.
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